Iran has recruited at least 80,000 Shi’ite fighters under Iranian control are trained at a base near the Syrian capital, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations has said.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon told the UN Security Council on April 26 that Iran established the training base just over eight kilometers from Damascus.
Iran, along with Russia, has given President Bashar al-Assad’s government crucial support throughout Syria’s seven-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Holding up a map, Danon said, "What you can see here is Iran's central induction and recruitment center in Syria,” where he said the Shi’ite militants are trained to “commit acts of terror in Syria and across the region."
The Israeli envoy posted on Twitter a satellite map of the alleged recruiting center, with a caption reading, “Imam Hossein – Iranian Garrison on the road to Lebanon.”
There has been a spike in hostile rhetoric between the Israel and Iran since an air strike on a military base in Syria that Tehran and Moscow blamed on Israel earlier this month. Seven Iranians were reported killed in the strike on the Tayfur base, also known as T4.
Israel, which has repeatedly warned that it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, has neither confirmed nor denied carrying out the strike. Tehran has threatened to respond.
Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview published on April 26 that his country will strike Tehran if attacked by Iran.
"We hear many [Iranian] threats ... but if they attack Tel Aviv, we will strike Tehran," Lieberman told the Arabic news site Elaph.
Meanwhile, the acting commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said Israel is "frightened" of the presence of Iran’s forces near its borders.
"That's why we are seeing it launch missiles at bases where our [Iranian] forces are present," Iran’s official news agency IRNA quoted General Hossein Salami as saying.